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Will China find its voice?
May 6, 2008 2:31 PM   Subscribe

The messy 3-way interaction between grassroots Chinese nationalism, foreign opposition, and the quiet hand of China's media censors continues.
posted by Tlogmer (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
If the Communist Party wasn't so paranoid about popular discontent, maybe they wouldn't have squelched one half of the discussion, leaving it unbalanced and spiraling toward emotional nationalism. Maybe this whole clusterfuck could have been avoided.

But in order for the party not be be paranoid about getting the guillotine, there would have to be some formal mechanism for orderly changes in leadership ...
posted by Tlogmer at 2:34 PM on May 6, 2008


what?
posted by shmegegge at 2:38 PM on May 6, 2008


I'm talking about elections.
posted by Tlogmer at 3:13 PM on May 6, 2008


在终点的宾馆里 确实有国人动手打人
posted by gottabefunky at 3:27 PM on May 6, 2008


I think it's kind of funny, people complain about the lack of free speech in china, but when Chinese people do speak up about what they care about, people absolutely freak out. Now, granted a lot of that sentiment probably exists because they've been getting fed propaganda for decades, but I seriously doubt that the strident pro-nationalism on display is insincere or unrepresentative of what the average Chinese person thinks about the various issues. Otherwise why would Chinese students abroad be making such a big deal about it?

That said, it's pretty absurd that Chinese students in Korea could think they could beat the crap out of a protester or two without some kind of fallout.

It's also absurd for Americans to complain after what happened in the run up to the Iraq war. On the one hand you have Grace Wang and on the other you have the Dixie Chicks. The situations are not entirely analogous, since the Dixie Chicks were already public figures, but still. Radio stations sponsored parties where their CDs were burned. I guarantee you our 'display' was every bit as threating to the outside world as China's is now, if not much more so (after all, we did end up invading another country)

The other funny bit: The fact that the French are on the receiving end of both fits of nationalism. They just can't win.
posted by delmoi at 3:34 PM on May 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


Without rights, pride is empty
posted by homunculus at 4:42 PM on May 6, 2008


Good article, homunculus (your headline was a bit of a stretch, though).
posted by Tlogmer at 4:57 PM on May 6, 2008


On the one hand you have Grace Wang and on the other you have the Dixie Chicks.

This kind of false analogy seems popular lately: Since neither country A nor country B is perfect in some respect, therefore they must be about the same. Kishore Mahbubani from Singapore did much the same in his BBC interview last week, so I guess you're in illustrious company there. Of course your analogy is somewhat more flawed than that, since according to her article Grace Wang didn't actually say anything like what she was accused of saying.

I seriously doubt that the strident pro-nationalism on display is insincere or unrepresentative of what the average Chinese person thinks about the various issues.

I tend to think it is still more of a "loud minority" making this kind of noise. After all, it is hardly fair to call the people who went out of their way to destroy Dixie Chicks CDs representative of the average American. Not that they didn't do quite a lot of damage to the country's politics and international reputation, and it does tell you something about the general attitudes of the country that it was allowed to go so far. It also tells you something about the government approach to such things that President Bush himself spoke up not to vilify the Dixie Chicks, but to defend their right to say what they like. Even if you are among those who count him among the crazy minority, at least he's on the way out now, and the country gets another little boost to its chance to retreat from the insanity before it grows too strong. Whatever Mahbubani may actually think of it, this approach to "democracy" does have some real advantages.
posted by sfenders at 6:48 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's kind of funny, people complain about the lack of free speech in china, but when Chinese people do speak up about what they care about, people absolutely freak out. Now, granted a lot of that sentiment probably exists because they've been getting fed propaganda for decades, but I seriously doubt that the strident pro-nationalism on display is insincere or unrepresentative of what the average Chinese person thinks about the various issues. Otherwise why would Chinese students abroad be making such a big deal about it?
It is unrepresentative, delmoi. While I expect most people are more or less patriotic as anywhere else, this kind of rabid nationalism is mostly prevalent among more educated urbanites and students. There's a whole raft of other issues of far more immediate and pressing concern to the vast majority of Chinese people - land, food prices, official corruption, injustices of every kind - which would never find the space either online or on the streets that this spasm of nationalism has. If a demonstration the size of those seen outside Carrefour branches occurred outside a provincial Land Bureau over some developer stealing farmer's land, how long do you think it would last? Chinese students abroad are by no means a representative cross-section of the populace. The money required to send a child abroad to study ensures that.
posted by Abiezer at 8:11 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, it is my fervent hope that all the world's ultra-nationalists will be dropped on some deserted volcanic island where they can beat the shit out of each other to their heart's content and leave the rest of us in peace.
posted by Abiezer at 8:18 PM on May 6, 2008


I routinely speak to students and young people in China. I have no problem with Chinese freedom of speech, but without freedom of information to find out if that speech is based in reality, it's kind of pointless. Lots of noise, very little signal. If I hear that Tibet has always been part of China, or that there are 56 ethnic groups in China, or other simple falsehoods one more time .... ugh. What makes it most frustrating is that any time anyone says anything critical of China, it's because they're anti-China. Or because they're ignorant. There is literally no possibility that a well-informed person with no particular axe to grind could look at China and see anything other than happy, glorious, 5000-year-old progress. The entire conversation is based on ad-hominem attacks, or the no true Scotsman fallacy.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:01 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


China says Dalai Lama trying to blacken its name
posted by homunculus at 1:20 AM on May 7, 2008


There's a whole raft of other issues of far more immediate and pressing concern to the vast majority of Chinese people - land, food prices, official corruption, injustices of every kind - which would never find the space either online or on the streets that this spasm of nationalism has. If a demonstration the size of those seen outside Carrefour branches occurred outside a provincial Land Bureau over some developer stealing farmer's land, how long do you think it would last?

I actually witnessed almost exactly what you are describing when I was living in Beijing. I had only recently arrived, and my friend and I were walking around after dinner. As we turned a corner, we found ourselves between a group of peasants, with a hand painted banner protesting the expropriation of their land, and a large number of police. The two groups looked at us, doing nothing, as we walked by. The peasants seemed totally defeated. Most of them were sitting, and they had a look on their faces more suited to a funeral than a protest. The police, for their part, looked equal parts nervous, disinterested and impatient. Behind the police were some large empty vans, with about 12 or so coach style seats in each one.

That little tableau has certainly had a profound impact on my feelings about the Chinese government.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:16 AM on May 7, 2008


I'll cross post this from another thread
Davesgonechina points out in Engaging Chinese Netizens that if you
1) Believe in democratic principles and free speech
2) You believe the Internet is a tool for unfettered global communication
3) There’s something in China (or any other country) that bothers you
Then you ought to put some energy into communicating directly with Chinese netizens about the problem.
He also explains how to do so.
posted by adamvasco at 2:26 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the one hand you have Grace Wang and on the other you have the Dixie Chicks.

This kind of false analogy seems popular lately: Since neither country A nor country B is perfect in some respect, therefore they must be about the same.


Delmoi did not say or imply that "they must be about the same." You're arguing against a ghost.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:59 AM on May 7, 2008


Olympic flame lit at Everest peak

Considering that the Olympic torch relay was a Nazi invention, and that the Nazi's seemed to believe that Tibet was the original homeland of their Aryan master race, this almost seems like the culmination of some bizarre Nazi occult ritual. I hope China hasn't been duped into freeing an army of Teutonic zombie warriors from their ancient Himalayan prison.
posted by homunculus at 1:57 AM on May 8, 2008


China, Indonesia reject France's Myanmar push
posted by homunculus at 1:04 PM on May 8, 2008


Tibetan Nuns Jailed, Detained
posted by homunculus at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2008


Chinese Lawyers suppressed for offering legal service to Tibetans
posted by homunculus at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2008


China arrests 16 monks for defying "patriotic re-education"
posted by homunculus at 9:14 AM on May 15, 2008


BBtv - Google's "Great Firewall of China": Fun with the Billboard Liberation Front and monochrom
posted by homunculus at 10:30 AM on May 15, 2008


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